King banquet is Sunday


Benjamin, Osoba, the winner of the Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Award, in the library at Eastside High School. Benjamin received the award based on his academic merits, his extra-curricula activities and his volunteer service.

BRAD MCCLENNY/Special to the Guardian
Published: Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 3:42 p.m.

Florida Sen. Anthony C. "Tony" Hill will be the keynote speaker at the 25th annual Hall of Fame Banquet, a signature event of the 2010 King Celebration sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida Inc.



What: The 25th annual Hall of Fame Banquet, the signature event of the 2010 King Celebration.
When: 6 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Paramount Plaza Hotel and Conference Center, 2900 SW 13th St.
Tickets: $65 in advance only.
Information: Call 352-376-2442.

Rodney J. Long, president of the King Commission, said Hill will discuss the celebration's theme, "Living the Dream - Preserving the Legacy."

"Sen. Hill will speak about the people who were part of the civil rights struggle," said Long. "He can inspire the next generation and rejuvenate those who fought the fight."

The banquet will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Paramount Plaza Hotel and Conference Center, 2900 SW 13th St. Tickets are $65 each and must be purchased in advance.

Hill, D-Jacksonville, was first elected to the Florida Senate in 2002 and re-elected to four-year terms in 2004 and 2008.

He is the middle child of Cordelia Hill and the late Ernest Hill Sr.

He is married to Patricia, and they have four children and five grandchildren. Hill is a member of Greater Macedonia Baptist Church in Jacksonville, where he teaches Sunday School.

Hill's accomplishments are far-reaching and include spearheading a successful effort culminating in the Florida Senate passing a resolution formally apologizing for the Florida Legislature's long support of slavery and expressing Florida's profound regret for the shameful chapter in this state's history.

Hill, along with other Florida legislators, was instrumental in having the Florida Legislature examine the state song, "Old Folks at Home," as a song that was demeaning to African Americans. It was written by Stephen Foster.

As a result, Long said a more inclusive song, "Florida: Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky," by Florida music teacher Jan Hinton was selected.

While serving as chair of the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators, Hill and other members encouraged Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to issue an executive order establishing a task force to develop the requirements needed for the state of Florida to begin the process of restoring civil rights and streamlining the restoration of voting rights to former felons, who had completed their sentences and all other court-ordered requirements.

Another highlight of the banquet will be the recognition of the 2010 Hall of Fame honoree and the 2010 Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Award. Daniel Harmeling, a Gainesville civil rights activist, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and Benjamin Osoba, a senior at Eastside High School, is the recipient of the scholarship.

"The Hall of Fame recognizes local citizens who have demonstrated non-violence in the fight for social change," said Long, "and the Keeper of the Dream scholarship recognizes seniors we believe will become leaders of tomorrow."

Banquet tickets, which will not be available at the door, can be purchased by calling Jacquelyn J. Hart at 352-376-2442 or from any member of the King Commission board of directors.

Below are other highlights of the celebration during the next week. All events are free and open to the public. They are:

"Remembering Martin:" The observance will feature keynote speaker Dr. Rudolph McKissick Jr., senior pastor of Bethel Baptist Institutional Church in Jacksonville.

His congregation totals 12,000 members.

The musical blessing and vision of McKissick has resulted in the production of three word and worship CDs that have received both local and national critical acclaim, with the project titled, "The Right Place," debuting at No. 5 on the Billboard charts.

He is married to the former Kimberly Joy Nichols and they have three children: Jocelyn, Janai and Joshua.

"Remembering Martin" will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Mount Carmel Baptist Church, 2505 NE 8th Ave. For information, call 352-335-0572 or 352-371-4566.

Restoration of Rights, Expunging and Sealing of Records Educational Workshop: Co-sponsored by the University of Florida Levin School of Law Virgil Hawkins Civil Clinic, Josiah T. Walls Bar Association and Three Rivers Legal Services Inc., it will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, at the King Center, 1028 NE 14th St. For more information, call 352-273-0800 or (352) 372-0519.

Historical Marker Dedication Ceremony: The event will include the unveiling of the National Register of Historic Places Sign at Shady Grove Primitive Baptist Church in the Porter's community. The event will include lunch and comments from officials from the city of Gainesville, Alachua County, the 4As and more. It will be held at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 14 at 804 SW 5th St. For more information, call 352-870-7013.

Black History Cultural Bowl and Spelling Bee: Bowl contestants will include youth sponsored by Showers of Blessings Harvest Center, Precious Pearls, a youth group sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Mount Olive AME Church, Reichert House, and Monteocha New Life Christian Center. Spelling bee contestants will include fifth-graders sponsored by Monteocha New Life Christian Center, Showers of Blessings, Mount Olive, the Gainesville Housing Authority, the Alachua County Housing Authority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and the Star Christian Academy. It will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14 at the King Center, 1028 NE 14th St. For more information, call 352-466-3320.

1st Youth Extravaganza Talent Show: This will feature area elementary through high school students participating in singing, dancing and poetry competitions. The participants were selected through an audition process. The youth extravaganza will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15 at the King Center. For more information, call 352-246-1739 or 352-870-7013.

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